The politics and religion of Paul Douglas, storytelling v. news, your global salary, why the Vikings-to-Los Angeles claim is hot air, and Supreme Court style.
The Quaker Oats people are giving their logo a makeover. "Larry" the Quaker is a little less heavy and a little more youthful. The marketers have figured they'll sell more boxes of their cereals if they create a subtle impression of vigor.
To mere mortals, this may seem like a minor move, but marketers are much smarter than the pigeons -- us -- who buy their products.
Packaging experts understand that our lying eyes will make them money.
Of late, taller and thinner is the key to this. My colleague, Julia Schrenkler, and I noticed this recently on our daily popcorn run. The popcorn box is as tall as it used to be, but now it's thinner in order to disguise the fact that for the same money, you're getting less. McDonald's did the same thing with soft drink cups.
If you've bought cereal lately, you've probably noticed you get a pretty tall box filled half-full of cereal.
In the last few months, I've been conducting an experiment with shaving cream. Gillette, for example, makes Comfort Advantage shaving cream and markets it in a very tall can, where it competes on the shelves with a few, cheaper short-and fat cans.
I noticed, however, that the cans seem to stop actually dispensing product fairly quickly, so I put it to the test.
Here's a full can
As you can see, it weighs 11.6 ounces.
This can -- I've experimented with four so far -- is empty, or at least it stopped dispensing shaving cream a week ago.
The can weighs 4.3 ounces. I used, then, 7.3 ounces. In truth, the normal person would've thrown this away a week ago, but I stood for the 5 or 10 minutes it took for the remaining shaving cream to drip out after the pressure in the can disappeared. I'm cheap that way.
But let's go with the 7.3 ounces, and note what the company's packaging says you're buying: 8.4 ounces. So you've paid for 8.4 ounces of shaving cream, you actually get 7.3 ounces. Simply brilliant, and that's how creative packaging can increase a margin by 13.1%.(5 Comments)
Canada has made a bold and obvious decision and life seems to be going on just fine today. Canada is going to get rid of the penny.
It costs 1.6 cents to produce a penny in Canada and if there's one thing Canadians appear to be good at, it's math.
"Some Canadians consider the penny more of a nuisance than a useful coin. We often store them in jars, throw them away in water fountains or refuse them as change," a government report said.
Case closed. No whining. No nostalgia. Just a business decision.
Why can't the United States do that?
The U.S. penny costs 2.4 cents to make but a few congressional moves to get rid of the penny never got started because Americans are more emotional about these things, apparently. For one thing, Lincoln, one of the most beloved presidents, is on the penny. For another, Illinois, the land of Lincoln, takes these efforts as a personal attack.
Memo: If you want to keep your job in the world of science, don't release a report that appears to prove Einstein was wrong.
Another shoe dropped today in the ongoing saga that began last fall when scientists released research that neutrinos appear to travel faster than light. Two researchers who led the team have quit, a few weeks after acknowledging a technical problem -- loose connections -- caused the error, and caused us to dream of time travel, among other things.
One of them tells Nature.com that's not why he quit, while then revealing that it had a lot to do with it:
Autiero denied that he was stepping down because of mistakes in the measurement, saying that the discovery of an unknown systematic error is an inevitable hazard for any scientist doing a precision measurement. "In science you cannot pretend to be the owner of any absolute truth," he says. Instead, he says that he and Ereditato felt that tensions that had always existed within OPERA were becoming impossible to bridge. He acknowledges that these were exacerbated by the publication of the provocative result, with some complaining from the beginning that the findings were likely to be wrong. He also agrees that the spectacular degree of media attention has brought pressure to bear. Despite the fact that OPERA itself never claimed to overturn Einstein's theory, keeping its claims narrowly to the report of an anomalous measurement, many newspapers depicted it that way. 'They played with the sensationalism of the story," he says.
No absolutes in science? What about the science of blaming the media? It works every time.(3 Comments)
Dream all you want about winning a lottery and quitting work but be glad you'll be a loser. If you're a man, retiring early can kill you, new research says.
LiveScience.com reports that men had an increased risk of death before age 67 when they retired early.
"According to our estimates, one additional year of early retirement causes an increase in the risk of premature death of 2.4 percentage points (a relative increase of about 13.4 percent, or 1.8 months in terms of years of life lost)," the researchers said.(3 Comments)
There are few issues that find DFLers and Republicans on the same side at the Capitol these days. Sunday liquor sales is one.
Minnesota doesn't allow liquor sales on Sunday and the issue annually surfaces at the Capitol and efforts to repeal the liquor blue laws annually fail.
Today the issue surfaced at the Capitol and the repeal effort went down in flames again.
"We are seeing our commerce exported to states like Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Iowa. The freedom to stay in business rather than being restricted by state law," Rep. Stephen Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa said as he tried to amend a bill to allow Sunday sales, sales on Thanksgiving and after 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
"All of the consumers I've spoken with want Sunday liquor sales. We're all adults; we should have the right to choose," Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, said. "It's 2012. It's about time our laws reflect that."
"It wasn't the big liquor stores that came in (to testify on previous measures); it was the small ones -- the mom and pops came in and said, 'you're going to take six days of revenue and spread it over seven days,'" Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, answered
"What industry wouldn't like a deal where the government comes in and says, 'you can have a day when you don't have to worry about your competitors'?" Rep. Tina Liebling said. "This is a legal product and to not allow it is unfair to the consumer. It treats people like children. That's a silly argument and kind of insulting. They don't have to open and that's the free market, you're always talking about. Restaurants do this too. They close on Mondays."
"Think of the families," Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont said. "If someone wants to drink, they can go Saturdays to buy their liquor and drink it at home with their family. My dad drank too much. My brother probably was an alcoholic. I don't think they ever spent a Sunday drinking; they spent it with their family. Let the families have a day together, "
"If you have something against liquor, bring forward a bill to outlaw it," Drazkowski said.
"Stay home with your family. Value church and family times," Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said. "I think the blue laws are a part of Americana that everyone wants to get back to."
"Why would you come to this state if you can't get a beer?" another lawmaker said.
The amendment went down and went down hard on a 97-25 vote.
"This thing got destroyed," Rep. Kriesel said. "Government knows what's best for you. This is incredibly frustrating." He offered an amendment to offer liquor sales in border counties.
"Did you guys watch the Vikings last year? Three and 13. I think liquor is something that could solve the frustration on Sundays this year," he joked.
His amendment went down hard, too. 99-21.